- Associated Press - Sunday, February 14, 2016

DECATUR, Ill. (AP) - Azure Nicole has long been interested in welding, but envisioned a career in the field as spending his time using a flame torch to attach pieces of metal to each other.

During an internship at Caterpillar Inc., working with fabrication planning group manager Brad Harvey, the MacArthur High School senior is finding out there can be a lot more to welding than that.

In the Inspired Futures program, high school students spend three afternoons a week in a Decatur business, working side by side with professionals and learning what real work is about. The hope is that the students will not only make contacts and get experience, but be able to get a better grasp on what they want to do with their lives.

“We participated in this program last year and wanted to make sure we participated this year, because it’s a good thing to keep going,” said Paxon Edge, who coordinates the program for CAT with the Decatur schools. “We want to be involved in the community, and support these initiatives which are coming from the Decatur public schools and all area schools.”

Three interns are working at CAT in the areas of engineering, manufacturing, configuration and fabrication.



“I felt this would be an amazing opportunity, to work with an actual manufacturing job,” said Dalton Gentry, a senior at Eisenhower High School. “I’m learning hands-on, like taking inventory of tools and if we get a new tool, organizing them and stuff like that.”

“I want to try to get him as much exposure to the shop floor and what a manufacturing engineer actually does,” said Eric Bishop, manufacturing engineer supervisor, who oversees Gentry. “What I expect from him day to day is the same as I expect from the rest of my employees.”

Tiffany Welford, a senior at MacArthur, is interested in physics and was leaning toward the medical field, but her experience at CAT has shown her that engineering might well be an option, too. Welford and her supervisor, configuration engineer Chris Willey, designed a new tool and used a 3D printer to make a prototype. The tool will make assembly of the large mining trucks a little easier.

“I wanted to show her that engineering touches almost every facet of the world and show her all the different options in engineering and try to show her some of the fun stuff about engineering and give her some hands-on experience,” Willey said.

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Source: (Decatur) Herald & Review, https://bit.ly/1SIZofK

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Information from: Herald & Review, https://www.herald-review.com

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